Cal Wenzel, Age: 71
Hometown: Regina
Influential because: He’ll put big money where his mouth is

It’s not often a successful businessman jumps into the public fray as aggressively and divisively as Cal Wenzel did last October. Wenzel had always been an advocate for the home-building industry, through his work for associations at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. He was politically active in backing pro-development politicians, too. But in the lead-up to the 2013 municipal election in Calgary, Wenzel funded – and encouraged others to fund – a slate of candidates who would try to stop Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s vision of a future. That future was high-density development in the city.

A secretly taped, 18-minute video of Wenzel came to light. In it, Wenzel encourages his audience to help elect eight development-friendly councillors. This led to a high-profile war of words with Nenshi, in which the mayor accused him of breaking the law. It all culminated with Wenzel launching a $6-million defamation suit, which remains ongoing.